Jonathan Edwards – Right Where I Am
Some may ask why did it take Jonathan Edwards so long to release new songs? But in truth he has. After his initial 1971 gold success with “Sunshine,” he went from Capricorn Records to Atco (Atlantic subsidiary) for 3 more LPs. Then to Warner/Reprise for 2 more. After an independent live LP, he joined Sugar Hill. Edwards was a viable artist.
But hits like “Sunshine” eluded him. It isn’t easy to get that kind of success in succession. Minnesota’s Jonathan Edwards went major label one last time at MCA (1989) & then it was independent, with some live LPs & studio work for others: Emmylou Harris (“Elite Hotel”) & Mary Chapin Carpenter. Along the way, Jonathan did some Broadway & motion pictures.
Jonathan was in that elite club that also housed Bob Lind (famous for “Elusive Butterfly,” in 1965 who also never returned to the top 10). With Right Where I Am (Rising Records 207/drops June 18) Mr. Edwards returns to what he does best – with 8 original songs. He was never pigeon-holed into any one genre. His songs drew a pop crowd, a country & folk audience.
“Right Where I Am,” leads with acoustic guitars & though simplistic (“…I know a little about a lot of things,”), it’s loaded with the tradition that audiences loved from John Prine, Harry Chapin & Jim Croce. Edwards has this in spades with a voice that matured. An excellent storytelling voice.
Harmonica begins the energetic “Drop & Roll,” an upbeat piece with nostalgic references. Clever & a hoot. “500 Years,” is reflective with Edwards reminiscing about his career with a great rich folkish voice.
“Scars of Love,” & “Burn It All,” are good-natured songs with plaintive lines but it’s filler. A 5-decade career is nothing to scoff at especially in the music business. Mr. Edwards is a consummate songwriter & he possesses a good distinctive voice & he has great instincts. He’s a survivor.
What I think he needs to jog things — is an original, controversial song (not a dirty song). Look what it did for Randy Newman, by accident.
Produced by Jonathan with Don Campbell (bass/electric guitars/programmed drums/harmony vocals), Tom Snow (piano), Duane Edwards (A-bass) & Duke Levine (mandola/electric guitars). No one song is poor. Some are more lyrically charming than others. The more novelty-oriented tunes (“Stingray Shuffle”) should’ve been just bonus songs.
A song like “There Comes a Time,” has far more heft. I like the line “on this first day of forever…” maybe that should’ve been the title. “Groove #107,” the final cut is a surprise. Poetic narration, solid Celtic feel musically, a 60s hippie notion but not nostalgically & not dated. The haunting voice coagulates the melody. This isn’t so much a great cut as a really cool one. Pass the doobie.
The 32-minute CD is available @ Amazon & https://www.jonathanedwards.net/
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Edwards website.